How Your Health Is Restricted When You Ignore Biodiversity In Your Meals

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of biodiversity within the environment — the importance of maintaining a diverse ecosystem to protect the fragile balance of life. But what isn’t discussed quite as much is the importance of biodiversity within ourselves and in our meals. Diversity in diet and in the gut is a very important topic, and in this case, ignorance isn’t bliss — it’s disease.

Diversity in meals

Once upon a time, our ancestors enjoyed over 15,000 different types of apples; now, as any grocery store will demonstrate, we are down to about five. Gone are days where a healthy eater could enjoy the White Horse, the Summer Ladyfinger, the Junaluskee, or the Polly Sweet. Now, four out of five apple varieties are close to disappearing.

In general, there are over 30,000 edible plants growing on the planet; people eat about a dozen.

This means bad news for diversity in meals.

Humans are complex creatures and require a complex diet. A recent study showed that as food diversity decreases, diet-related disease increases. The lack of diversity in our meals comes along with a lack of diversity in our guts.

Diversity in the microbiome

The microbiome refers to the plethora of microorganisms growing and living symbiotically with our bodies. Many people don’t realize the huge number of microorganisms that live out their lives with them — in fact, we are more microbe than human. Researchers estimate humans carry four to ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. If all those cells were mushed together they would be about the size of a basketball and weigh about three pounds. That’s a lot of microbes.

Research on these little friends has exploded in the last few years and some scientists believe it will lead to the string theory of all human disease. For just about any ailment plaguing our race at the moment, there is a researcher quickly discovering its correlation with the microbiome.

The huge majority of microbes live along the inside of the large intestine and they help the body out by fermenting undigested food components. They come in four different types

  • Bacteria – anywhere between 500 and 1,000 species of bacteria inhabit our bodies
  • Archaea – these mysterious single cell creatures aid in our digestion
  • Fungi – these microbes come mostly in the form of yeasts and also aid in digestion
  • Viruses – these microorganisms live all over our body for better or for worse.

Of course, not all microbes are good for us, as many bacteria and viruses have caused life-ending illnesses. But finding a proper balance in diversity could prove to be life-saving.

Sadly, no amount of treadmill workouts will make-up for a lack of biodiversity, so get started here.